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Exploring the marine meiofauna of the Azores – from discovery to scientific publication

VW-Summer school at the Universidade dos Açores in Ponta Delgada, São Miguel

15.07.2019 – 24.07.2019


When? 15.7.-24.7.19
Where? Universidade dos Açores, Ponta Delgada, São Miguel

Scope: The current biodiversity crisis calls for action to intensify biodiversity assessments and basic taxonomic research, but meanwhile organismic biology and systematics are more and more de-prioritized in university education. For the present summer school an international team of taxonomic experts from eight countries collaborates to combine education of graduate students on the diverse marine meiofauna with the exploration of a “white spot” on the global map of meiofaunal diversity – the isolated Azorean archipelago in the middle of the Northern Atlantic. We will touch all major meiofaunal lineages, which will contribute significantly to biotic inventory of the Azores and address the central questions: 1) how does the diversity and composition of taxa vary between intertidal and shallow-water subtidal habitats and 2) between islands of different geological ages. Our main scientific goal is to describe the key lineages of the Azorean meiofauna and place them in a phylogenetic and evolutionary context, evaluating the putative rate of endemism. The studies initiated by the summer school will contribute to a better understanding of dispersal of meiofauna to and between volcanic islands and allow (re-)evaluating the ‘meiofauna paradox’ and biogeographic patterns. This summer school unites practical field work to sample meiofauna with in-depth taxonomic training and reflections on its relations to ecological parameters. Parallel preparation for environmental metabarcoding as well as training in science communication, public outreach and scientific writing will also be part of the course program. All participants will be actively involved in the publication of the results in a special volume of an international peer-reviewed journal, following a marine biodiversity assessment from the discovery of novel species to their formal description. In this joint effort of student mentees and mentors, we aim to estimate the taxonomic, genetic and ecological dimensions of meiofaunal biodiversity on the Azores.

Ana Ricardo Costa (University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal)
Katharina Jörger (SNSB-Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, Munich, Germany)
Timea Neusser (LMU Munich, Germany)
Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa (University of Hamburg, Germany)

Preliminary program: Meiofauna summer school preliminary program (pdf, 145 kb)

Student mentees: The summer school is open to international graduate students interested in the diversity of marine meiofauna. Travel grantsfor flights, accommodation and food for the participating students will be provided.

Funding: VW Foundation

Details on application procedure: Meiofauna summer school application information (pdf, 68 kb)
Deadline for application: 15.5.19 (announcement of acceptance: 31.5.19).


Participating scientist/ mentors:
Nuno Vaz Álvaro (University of the Azores, Angra do Heroísmo, Portugal)
Tom Artois (UHasselt, Diepenbeek, Belgium)
Marco Curini-Galletti (University of Sassari, Italy)
Maikon DiDomenico (Universidade Federal do Paraná, Pontal do Paraná, Brazil)
Maria Fais (University of Minho, Braga, Portugal)
Diego Fontaneto (Water Research Institute, Verbania, Italy)
Freya Goetz (Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA)
Rick Hochberg (UMass, Lowell, USA)
Alberto de Jesus-Navarrete (Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Chetumal, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
Ulf Jondelius (Swedish Museum of Natural History, Stockholm, Sweden)
Katharina Jörger (SNSB-Bavarian State Collection of Zoology, Munich, Germany)
Francesca Leasi (University of Tennessee, Chattanooga, USA)
Alejandro Martínez García (Water Research Institute, Verbania, Italy)
Timea Neusser (LMU Munich, Germany)
Jon Norenburg (Smithsonian Institution, Washington D.C., USA)
Ana Ricardo Costa (University of the Azores, Ponta Delgada, Portugal)
Andreas Schmidt-Rhaesa (University of Hamburg, Germany)